Trekking Out Through a Flooded Karakorum

8000ers Karakorum
Oswaldo Rodrigo Pereira crosses a flooded river during the trek out. Photo: Oswaldo Rodrigo Pereira

It was the end of the climb but not the end of the adventure. A bunch of tired climbers set off from Broad Peak and K2 Base Camps toward Skardu this past weekend.

Unlike Nepal, where private helicopter companies offer a quick and scenic flight back to civilization, Karakorum climbers must hoof it. That is, unless they are injured or have extremely good contacts and can cop an expensive flight aboard a Pakistan Army helicopter. Still, hiking back from the Baltoro is usually good news, because it means that someone is able to hike back.

Late but lethal monsoon

As we mentioned yesterday, bad weather has settled into the Karakorum. The monsoon hits Pakistan later than Nepal, which makes a summer climbing season possible. But after good weather allowed a record number of K2 summits, moisture has finally hit the Karakorum and elsewhere in Pakistan in a big way.

In the Islamabad-Rawalpindi areas, flash floods from the monsoon killed 88 people last week. The Northerner blog warned today that the swollen Shyok River near Ghwari (Ghanche) is dangerously high, and tourists are advised not to drive in the area. A video of the current state of the river leaves no room for doubt.

Anton Pugovkin on a better-don’t-fall section of the trek back to Skardu. Photo: Vitaly Lazo

Crossing swollen rivers

Along the Baltoro trek, the rains have caused rivers to rise, creating some dangerous crossings.

Oswaldo Rodrigo Pereira was shocked when the mule carrying his equipment drowned in one of these rivers. First, he just felt sorry for the animal. Then he realized that he had also lost all his gear.

“Not only my climbing equipment that I had collected for years but also some electronic devices and precious personal things, such as a notebook with dedications from members of all my expeditions,” he said.

When he finally did arrive in Skardu, his luggage consisted of “a T-shirt, a pair of clean socks, and underwear that I left in Skardu.” Luckily, the Polish climber and photographer had his cameras with him.

Vitaly Lazo and Anton Pugovkin were also in the group. Despite putting in double days, the rain and the flooded rivers finally caught up with them. Lazo posted a video showing a short but hairy crossing that is near the limit of what is possible.

Soaked climbers and staff dry in a local hut. Photo: Vitaly Lazo

Luckily, no human injuries occurred, and most of the climbers reached Skardu today. Hugo Ayaviri of Bolivia received the warmest welcome. He earned applause all over Pakistan, and not just because of his impressive no-O2 double ascents of Broad Peak and K2. He also helped Sajid Sadpara bring down, bury and honor the body of his father, Ali.

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About the Author

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides

Senior journalist, published author and communication consultant. Specialized on high-altitude mountaineering, with an interest for everything around the mountains: from economics to geopolitics. After five years exploring distant professional ranges, I returned to ExWeb BC in 2018. Feeling right at home since then!

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Samson Simon Sharaf
3 months ago

At Islamabad Airport to greet the Bolivian Climber Hugo Ayaviri & his wife. Thanked for his role in retrieving the body of #MuhammadAliSadpara whilst spending 33 hours in the death zone after summit. A heroic beyond his call of duty.
I will leave the story telling to Elia Saiklay

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Updates
Updates
3 months ago

Mr. Pereira lost all his K2 gear in C2 winds, and his Broad Peak gear in river. Glad he made it back safe!

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Mats
Mats
2 months ago
Reply to  Updates
Samson Simon Sharaf
3 months ago

The luggage of Mr. Pereira is retrieved but the male died.
To be on record Hugo Ayaviri spent over 60 hours in Death Zone while retrieving the dead bodies.

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Marcel
Marcel
3 months ago

Do you know whether he did the retrieval also without supplementary oxygen? That would be even more impressive… What a guy!!!

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Samson Simon Sharaf
3 months ago
Reply to  Marcel

The retrieval took more than two days without supplementary oxygen. Elia Saikaly filmed it while PK did the safety work. Hugo’s rescue work at this altitude was par technical and excellence. I will leave rest of the story to Elia Saiklay.

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Elena
Elena
3 months ago

Were Sajid and Hugo Ayaviri able to move or at least cover the body of John Snorri?

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Khizer
Khizer
3 months ago
Reply to  Elena

As per last reports, they could not move John because he is positioned in a more precarious spot. Will know better through Saikaly’s videos.

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Tourist Leader
Tourist Leader
3 months ago

Tourists getting a nice sightseeing tour on their walk back home.

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Samson Simon Sharaf
3 months ago

Another Drama. Due to a mistake by the French Travel agent, Hugo Ayaviri missed the flight by 12 hours. He has been made comfortable in a hotel by my team and trying to get a new booking on Qatar Airways. My team will take him around Islamabad this evening like a National Hero.

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Samson Simon Sharaf
3 months ago

My man at the airport

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Jahan
Jahan
3 months ago

That is great. He seems like a humble guy. Would love to know more about him.

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Samson Simon Sharaf
3 months ago

Hugo Ayaviri is now a State Guest of Pakistan.

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